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Relationship Advice I Never Got: Conflict

March 15, 2012

The last round of relationship advice was a hit, so I have more from my twitter friends, blog friends and Facebook pals.

Conflict seems to be everybody’s sticky point. EVERY couple fights. Or, has disagreements, however you want to say it. It’s healthy. You have to resolve them, though, or you’ll have the same damned fight throughout the relationship.

The most important thing, according to my pals, seems to be communication.

Always communicate, never quit trying is what my pal Kelly G says. You can’t resolve something if you just give up. It’s very easy to say “the hell with this!” and end a relationship. My friend LL (@ButchIma to those of you who follow her on twitter) says that she thinks you have to earn the right to leave a relationship. By that, she means you’ve tried as hard as you can to work through things and you can say honestly “Yes. I did everything I could and this just won’t work out.” [Of course, there are some exceptions: eg substance abuse and domestic violence. In those cases, GET OUT NOW. You can’t fix it.]

Olivia adds: if at all possible, talk about conflicts when they’re small. This is my weakness. I admit it. I HATE to talk about my damned feelings. I mean. I know I have to. I just don’t like it. However, I’ve been practicing with my friends and my family, so if I ever get a girlfriend (which, doubtful. See my “I’m a pain in the ass” post a few back) I will have some experience with just getting it done.

Olivia is a wise woman. It is actually far, far easier to deal with a problem when you’re only mildly annoyed by it. If you wait until you’re ready for a Full Femme Fit … well. You’ll have a Full Femme Fit. And have to deal with the aftermath of the FFF. It’s far easier to remain calm and rational, when you’re only mildly ticked off.

Here’s what not to do: don’t ignore those little things and let them build up. Because build up they will. It doesn’t have to be a long discussion. It can be simple and direct. “Will you please rinse out your cereal bowl so that the milk isn’t gross to wash out at the end of the day?” Or “It hurts my feelings when you {fill in the blank}.”

I think my beautiful friend Teri has the best advice of all Fight Fairly. The problem is that no one actually teaches us how to fight fairly, do they? Fighting is frequently not at all fair. [and don’t get all semantical here on me either. Fighting/ disagreement/ discussing/whatever you call it.] I read an excellent book once, Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman, Scott M. Stanley, and Susan L. Blumberg. It’s written for heterosexual couples but it can work for all of us.

This is also helpful, even though it was written by Catholic bishops. [I mean, what do PRIESTS know about marriage? Exactly nothing, that’s what. But apparently, they know about fighting – or else consulted with a psychologist or two because this is actually good.]

Conflict is unavoidable, whether it’s with a partner or a parent. Part of being a healthy adult is learning to manage it. So damn. I’m not a healthy adult yet. I’ll get there.

What are your relationship woes? Where do you struggle? Do you have advice for my readers?

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